Coffee Culture: Hot Coffee + Cool Spaces by Robert Schneider

Local author pens a coffee culture guide dedicated to the places that respect the ‘seed to cup’ process with sustainability and consistent quality in crafting coffee.

Local author Robert Schneider has a thing for great coffee and great design. In 2013, he began turning his life-long hobby—and unrelenting curiosity about modern design—into Coffee Culture: Hot Coffee + Cool Spaces. In 224 full-color pages, the book showcases 33 spaces that inspire human connection, celebrate beautiful and straightforward design and—put simply—elevate coffee to art.

Schneider researched over 1,000 coffee-centered establishments around the globe, learning about their approach to growing and brewing coffee, the history of their buildings, and the art and aesthetics of their spaces.

“I wanted to find places that respect the ‘seed to cup’ process with sustainability and consistent quality in crafting coffee,” Schneider says, “but also find unique spaces that tell a story and possess qualities that separate them from the ordinary and common.”

While Schneider frequents Twin Cities favorites Urban Bean, Kopplin’s, Anelace and Spyhouse, the only Minnesota shop in the book is Dogwood Coffee. It closed its doors after the book was published, but featured an open, sleek design and huge woodblock prints in its space in the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Schneider hopes that while coffee shops are constantly springing up, evolving and sometimes closing their doors, and some readers may not get to experience them in person, photos can “serve as ambassadors of the spaces” and inspire a deeper appreciation for the powerful intersection of great coffee and great design.

“This whole coffee-shop phenomenon is first and foremost about the quality of the coffee, but also spaces that invite human interaction. Coffee shops have become a part of our everyday culture and life,” says Schneider. He explains that “first wave” coffee met a need and provided cheap, hot, caffeinated beverages to get people through the long day. The “second wave” brought about large-batch, higher-quality brews (think #PSL and complicated, whipped-cream-laden concoctions) served in gathering spaces outside of work and home. Love them or hate them, these major second-wave coffee brands transformed the American lifestyle and raised our coffee standards.
Coffee Culture highlights “third wave” coffee-centered locales: highly thoughtful spaces that showcase the art and beauty of sourcing and presenting excellent coffee. Schneider hopes that this next generation of coffee entrepreneurs—including those in the book—continue to push the envelope and define coffee culture and design in America. Says Schneider, “Good design can make our human experiences—our precious moments of time—even more meaningful and satisfying.”

Coffee Culture: Hot Coffee + Cool Spaces, Images Publishing, $48